Why Rumors About Microsoft Durango Scare Me
So, Kotaku is reporting that they have a well informed source who is leaking details about the latest console from Microsoft. This new Xbox, either called Durango or Xbox 720 depending on who you listen to, is a serious gaming and media machine … if the leaked specs are even halfway believable – and Kotaku seems to think they are. But there are also some disturbing tidbits mixed in with all of that glorious goodness that have given me second thoughts about buying an Xbox Durango … or 720 … or Wombat – whatever it will be called.
Duragno Specs have Xbox Fanboys Drooling
First a bit about the machine as “leaked” by Kotaku’s secretive source (SuperDaE – the man who allegedly tried to sell a Durango developer kit on eBay before Microsoft gave him the legal beat down).
The machine is built around four quad-core processors operating at 1.6ghz apiece and features 8GB of DDR3 RAM. It will also make use of sexy-assed GPU that has its own RAM so as not to burden the processors too much. This will all be wrapped up in a package that has room for the mandatory hard drive (said to be 500GB at system launch).
Of course Durango will be utilizing the latest in Blu-Ray technology since Microsoft missed the boat with the whole HD DVD debacle. And Built-in WiFi will also be standard.
This puts the Durango on par with Sony’s rumored Playstation 4 (which may or may not be revealed February 20th at a media event in New York City) and light years ahead of the current generation Xbox 360.
Did Big Brother Design the Xbox Durango?
For those of you who don’t recognize the Orwellian reference – put the damned controller down and go read a book!
For those of you who do…
There are several issues in SuperDaE’s leaked memorandums that have me worried.
The first is that Kinect will now be mandatory. This doesn’t sound so bad at first – especially since the version of Kinect the new system will sport is said to be smarter, able to recognize more people (and more points of articulation on them), and will somehow be integrated seamlessly. However, there’s also the nasty rumor that the Kinect sensor must always be on when the gaming system is running.
So what, you say? If I’m not playing a Kinect game the sensor will just be sucking a little extra juice, right? Maybe. But the current generation of Kinect can already recognize players based on biometrics. And if the sensor must always be on, there is the capability for Microsoft to collect data (or even let third party vendors collect data) about who is watching/playing what. That means that perhaps movie playback could be cancelled if there are more than ten people in the room, that the greedy corporate types could learn exactly what you’re watching and turn that consumer data against you, that everything you do with your new Durango could be codified and stored in a hackable database somewhere.
That’s right, Kinect could rat on you when you slip that porno DVD in while your parents are away … or could tell the folks at the Lifetime Movie Network that it’s okay to fill your mailbox with catalogs loaded with chick flicks because you really like those dreadful movies … or it could even help advertisers tailor ads (and change them on the fly) to you specifically making it harder and harder for you to hold onto your hard earned money!
Paranoid, am I? Definitely. Wrong, am I? Probably not.
No More Used Games!!!
I’ve been a fan of the used game market since I found a handful of Atari 2600 cartridges in a box at a yard sale when I was 8. There’s nothing wrong with users trading out there games and adding life to the discs (which may or may not be going the way of the dinosaur thanks to digital delivery). However, game developers and entertainment companies don’t see it that way. They see every used game purchased as a lump sum of money that’s not going into their pockets.
So what can they do about that? How about make the use of Microsoft’s Durango contingent on a live Internet connection?
That’s right, SuperDaE and several other “well-informed” types have heard rumblings that not only must you have access to high-speed Internet to use Durango but that you must also have the system connected constantly. This means that the console could literally monitor the games you are playing and report back to the next generation of Xbox Live.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that (unless you’re super paranoid about the company having access to your eclectic gaming habits) but with the flick of a switch Microsoft could make it impossible for gamers to play used games.
By requiring registrations and actively monitoring users, Microsoft could create a DRM mess much like PC gamers are struggling with today. No used games, no traded games, maybe even no game rentals. IT sounds draconian but companies have done worse things when it comes down to protecting their bottom lines.
The Good With The Bad
So, Durango users will likely get an unprecedented gaming/media experience with eye-popping graphics, multi-disc storylines, and ever more immersive user interface. However, it may come at a price. We shall have to see if these rumors are true. Thankfully, it looks like we may hear some official announcements at E3 this year’s (that’s March folks) or maybe even sooner if Microsoft wants to get a jump on Sony in this iteration of the console wars.